The newest member of the Men in Blazers media network is an American original. A singular voice who proves that Americans can compete at the highest and driest levels of football wit — it’s Chris Russell, a.k.a. Watke.
Signed in the summer transfer window, Watke’s videos on USMNT and Americans in the Premier league are now in weekly rotation on the Men in Blazers social channels.
With more Watke content coming during the World Cup, it’s time we learn more about the man behind such iconic hits as “Mean Pulisic,” "I'd have passed to Weston McKennie," and "Matthew Hoppe is still annoying." On to the Q&A:
MiB: Where does your love of the game come from?
Watke: It came from Virginia, which is where I lived as a child. I don't remember being involved in the decision, but I was signed up for a soccer team, and the love for the game must have developed over that next decade. The influence of coaches would have played a part, and also relationships with teammates. Then you also have sensory factors like the smell of the field, and the look of the dew on it, and how all that'd vary by season in a predictable way. The actual play of the game I could take or leave, as I was not very good except at heading the ball. I would normally only get subbed in during late, desperate struggles to head the ball either into or away from goal. Thinking back I probably scored about an equal number of own goals to goals, but heading was, and still is, my favorite part of the game.
MiB: Why did you start making USMNT videos?
Watke: When the USMNT didn't qualify for the World Cup, I coped, like many, by spending most of my time making spreadsheets of American soccer prospects. Anyone who has gotten into making these types of spreadsheets will tell you how quickly it can escalate. Most often that's creating more and ever more detailed spreadsheets. But since I had a rough idea of how videos were edited — I used to make the training videos that you're forced to watch by your employer — USMNT videos were the more natural step for the escalation to take.
MiB: What’s your process for watching a match to find those “watke” moments?
Watke: Well, first, I would prefer to make videos about real soccer plays because I think that'd be more useful, but the problem is it's too uncertain. What with all the variance in the game I've never seen a way toward analyzing it with any confidence. So instead I think it's better to analyze the non-soccer. Non-soccer moments are actually very easy to find however you go about it, and pretty much anyone can do it without even any training. Normally what I do, though, to save time is get a video file of the game and edit out all the soccer. That's just one way to do it. The challenge comes when a moment is half-way between non-soccer and real soccer, and at that point you've just got to use your gut.
MiB: You mentioned Gregg potentially getting his own line of Nike shoes, “The Gregg’s,” if he does well at the World Cup. What other type of next-level player endorsements could you envision if the USMNT performs well?
Watke: Yes, I think if we make the quarterfinals, then some kind of limited edition Berhalter shoe line comes into play as a possibility. He'll also need to have worn some really nice sneakers and had a super active sideline presence throughout the tournament run, of course. But I think we can agree he's certain to meet both of those conditions, so it really just comes down to advancing. I say quarterfinals, but, yeah, maybe it's the semis. If we do that, then the main other one I’d like to see is Sergino Dest getting a Slingshot. One of those three-wheel motorcycles he likes to rent when he goes to Miami.
This article originally appeared in our American States United newsletter. More more content like this subscribe here.